List: Cities Where Texas Drunk Drivers Die Most Frequently

texas-dui-fatalitiesA Texas law firm has been paying attention to drunk driving in the state, in order to answer the question: Where are you most likely to be killed by a drunk driver in Texas?

Why ask the question? Drunk drivers are dangerous everywhere – they injure, kill, and cause sorrow and distress in every city and county.  But perhaps focusing on fatalities will get the attention of those who have the ability to prevent this crime. A drunk driver, after all, kills one person every 51 minutes in this country.

The list, compiled by Sutliff & Stout Injury and Accident Law Firm, uses TXDOT data to calculate which major towns and cities have the most DUI fatalities per capita.

As it turns out, these cities are the ones that came out the worst. The numbers refer to the number of alcohol-related fatalities per 100,000 population.

  • Odessa 6.26
  • Midland 6.19
  • Dallas 5.88
  • San Marcos 5.21
  • San Antonio 5.15
  • Baytown 5.12
  • Longview 5.09
  • Waco 4.63
  • Houston 4.36
  • Lubbock 4.1

What can we learn from this list? The cities range from Houston, with a population of 2.3 million, to San Marcos, which has just 62,000 people.  Geographically they are all over the map, and their economic and demographic profiles are different.

Here are some possible factors that unite this cities in this unhappy group:

  • Culture of Drinking and Drunk Driving. Drinking is more popular in some places than others, and drunk driving is tolerated more in some places as well. No one knows exactly why this is, but it might be that people tend to be more easygoing about letting friends drive drunk in Odessa than they are in, say, Frisco or Brownsville, which have low DUI fatality numbers.
  • Enforcement presence. If you know you are going to get pulled over, you’re more likely to watch what you drink before driving.  Cities with active sobriety checkpoints and DUI patrols not only catch more drunk drivers, but also warn other drivers to behave themselves.
  • Interlock compliance. Texas has a good all-offender ignition interlock law. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. All those convicted of DUI are required to install the device. But not all offenders do. It’s very possible that some municipalities have a more lax oversight on interlock compliance, which means that it’s easier for first offenders to become repeat offenders who cause DUI fatalities.

There may be other reason, and we hope that other public-spirited institutions follow the example of Sutliff & Stout and dig into the data to reveal more about how and why we drink and drive, and how we can prevent it.

Road Safety Organization Tells Teens: You Are Worth It

What’s a life worth? More than anything else, most of us would say. But teenagers in particular don’t always act as if they agree. Too many of them routinely threaten their own lives – and the lives of others – needlessly by drinking and driving. An organization in Louisiana was created to address this problem by challenging the belief that lies behind this carelessness.

“You Are Worth It” was started by Bill Baldridge, who was a passenger in a car driven by a drunk driver back in his teenage years. Two of his friends were killed in a crash that night. Baldridge lost his legs. Now he’s dedicating his time to preventing drunk driving.

The message of the organization, which can be found on its Facebook page, is direct and not the usual one directed at teens:

Your life and future is more valuable than the effort it takes to have a plan and be safe if using alcohol.

Telling kids not to drink is not on the agenda at YAWI. Planning is the point: if you drink, make a plan to get home safely that does not involve driving or riding with a drunk driver. Positive messages, we are finding, work better with teens than stern warnings.

Baldridge, a former police deputy and now a fire services dispatcher, has created youth empowerment programs designed to help teens realize their worth, their abilities, and their potential. The programs help young people pursue careers and achieve independence.

Encouragement and rewards, then, are the tools that You Are Worth It uses to inspire youth to make good decisions. It’s a worthy project. Bill Baldridge has taken the lessons he’s learned from his mistakes and life challenges and is using them to improve the lives of the next generation. That’s true generosity. Louisiana should be thankful for the gift YAWI is giving its youth.

Drive High? Yes, You Can Be Arrested For California Drunk Driving

California drunk driving It’s been a big month in California: on January 1st, marijuana became legal for recreational use. While people who enjoy using cannabis are celebrating the legalization, anti-drunk driving advocates are concerned that people don’t understand California drunk driving laws. They’d like to remind everyone that if you drive high, you’ll get a DUI.

DUI is defined as driving under the influence, and that includes driving under the influence of alcohol, opiates, and yes, marijuana. As soon as the calendar flipped over to January 1st, the state switched from preparing for legalization to preparing for a flood of high drivers to hit the roads.

To fight back against drugged driving the state has taken a few immediate steps.

Freeway signs broadcast an anti-drugged driving message

If you’re driving on the freeways in California you may have seen new messages broadcasting across the Amber Alert display signs. Certain areas have the message, “Drive high, get a DUI,” scrolling on repeat so drivers are reminded that it might be legal to smoke marijuana, but it’s not legal to drive after you do.

They’re on social media

Law enforcement like the LA County Sheriff’s office are online and sharing a hashtag via sites like Facebook and Twitter. The tag #DUIDoesntJustMeanBooze has been shared and retweeted widely, and they’d like drivers to know that any drug, including over the counter medications and prescribed medications, can impaired your driving skills.

California was the sixth state to legalize marijuana. Although the process of legalization may have been relatively easy, it’s not easy to curtail those people who don’t think that driving high is as big of a deal as driving under the influence of alcohol.

Keep in mind throughout this year and beyond that driving high is just as dangerous as driving drunk, and you can be charged with California drunk driving if you are drunk or high. If you’re planning on using marijuana or you’ve taken prescription drugs, you shouldn’t drive at all.

When Will The US Finally End Drunk Driving?

end drunk driving Drunk driving has been a problem for as long as cars have been on the road, but no one managed to get a handle on it until the 1980s. That’s when Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) stepped in and brought an about face to the growing issue of drunk driving in the United States. Since that time lawmakers, law enforcement, anti-drunk driving groups, and health experts have all been pushing to end drunk driving for good.

One set of experts just released a report and recommendations that they feel will eventually end drunk driving in the United States. Put out by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the report is called, “Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities.”

The three main recommendations of this report including lowering the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC), eliminating off-site alcohol sales, and passing sweeping ignition interlock reform.

Lowering the BAC in the United States

The report recommends that all states should drop their legal BAC to .05. This isn’t a new idea, because the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been asking states to lower the BAC for several years.

Utah was the first state in the US who listened to this advice, and they’ve already stepped up and become the first to officially lower their legal BAC to .05. The change isn’t due to take place until December 30th, 2018, and there has been opposition to what some see as a drastic change.

But the reasoning behind dropping the legal BAC is solid: because alcohol affects everyone differently, one person may only need one or two drinks to be legally impaired. Any amount of alcohol has the power to affect your driving skills, and lowering the BAC would mean people may really think before they drink and drive.

Removing alcohol sales from gas stations

It’s easy to buy alcohol when it’s as available as gas for your car, and when you put alcohol in a gas station, it makes it all too tempting to drink it while you’re driving. The report stated that removing alcohol from gas stations and drive-through stores would make it less likely people would drink and drive.

Ignition interlocks in all states

All states have some sort of ignition interlock law, but not all states require ignition interlocks for all offenders. The report recommends that all offenders, even first-time offenders who are arrested with a .08 BAC, are required to use the device to prevent them from driving drunk again.

There’s hope in the fact that drunk driving in the United States has decreased since the 1980s. It’s just disheartening that there’s still thousands upon thousands of people who make the choice to drive drunk every year considering the public education, strict laws, and technology like ignition interlocks to stop them. If the recommendations from this report are taken seriously and put into place by lawmakers in the USA, this could be the first glimmer of hope that they can actually end drunk driving sooner than later.

How to Skip the Valentine’s Day DUI Arrest This Year

valentines-day-duiAre you planning an evening for two this Valentine’s Day? Plenty of people are, and most of them have a good idea of how they’d like the evening to end up. That scene does not include a jail cell.

Nevertheless, a Valentine’s Day DUI arrest is more common than you’d think – it’s a night of celebration, and wine (and often champagne) are uncorked to slow down the moment and set the mood. But the planning that goes into a romantic evening often doesn’t include a safe ride home.

Here are some ways you can plan a night that ends the way you want it to – without fingerprinting, jail, bail, fines, and court dates:

  • Choose a restaurant within walking distance. If the weather is going to cooperate, make a romantic hand-in-hand walk part of the evening.
  • Dine in. It doesn’t sound romantic, but it can be. Where did you put those candles anyway?
  • Get dropped off. If you don’t drive to the restaurant, you can’t drive back. It’s all in the planning.
  • Skip the wine. It sounds sacrilegious, but there’s no law saying that you have to drink just because it’s Valentine’s Day. Have an extra-decadent dessert instead, and finish the night with a clear head.

The idea, after all, is to wake up the next day more in love than you were the night before. That’s hard to do when one of you is in jail, or facing large fines and a police record. So do some planning this Valentine’s Day, and a jail door will never come between you.

One Month, One County, Hundreds Of Texas Drunk Driving Arrests

Texas drunk driving If you’ve followed Texas drunk driving laws over the past few years, you know that the state has really tried to address the growing problem of drunk drivers. They’ve struggled with losing ride sharing services in a major city, added ignition interlocks for all offenders, and attempted mass DWI checkpoints over the busy holiday season to arrest anyone who drives while intoxicated.

The efforts put forth by lawmakers and police officers appear to be working overall, but one county in Texas is still proving to be a problem. Montgomery County logged more Texas drunk driving arrests during the 2017 holiday season than they did in the last two years.

The holiday period, from November 22nd until New Year’s Day, saw 322 people arrested for DWI. The year before they only saw 233, and the year before that they saw 117.

Why would a county see such a significant increase over a three-year period? For Montgomery County, it’s not that surprising. This county has been at the top of the list for Texas drunk driving arrests for several years, and DWI is the most popular offense in the area. According to one article, they generally log between 2,000 and 2,500 DWI cases every year. Police also believe that country roads play a factor. They’ve said that 74% of Montgomery County DWI crashes have happened in isolated or rural areas.

No matter what the reason, there’s one sure way to stop a drunk driving offender from continuing to drive after he or she is convicted of DWI. An ignition interlock—a device that requires an offender to blow an alcohol-free breath sample into it before the car will start, is required for all first-time offenders in every county in the state of Texas.

If Texas drunk driving offenders install them as ordered, it stands to reason that trouble spots like Montgomery County should see a significant decrease in their drunk driving statistics. Now that they’ve got so many DWI offenders on the books, Montgomery County should focus on ignition interlocks to prevent them from driving drunk again.

Minnesota Drunk Driving Offenders Ended 2017 With A Bang

Minnesota drunk drivingDrunk driving arrests and crashes are often part of the daily news, and sometimes those stories are labeled ‘crazy’ or ‘dumb’ by the people who cover them. One recent story on local news site covered Minnesota drunk driving arrests, and according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the following arrests are as dumb as it gets.

Fairmont, Minnesota

A Minnesota drunk driver was arrested for DWI on Christmas Eve after she was found driving on the wrong side of the road. Just a week later, on New Year’s Eve, she was arrested for drunk driving again.

Mankato, Minnesota

Friends shouldn’t let friends drive drunk, but after one man was arrested for DWI, his passenger was arrested for DWI just hours later while driving the exact same car.

St.Cloud, Minnesota

You’d think if you were about to appear in front of a judge for a DWI arrest, you’d make it a point to be clean and sober. That wasn’t the case for one Minnesota drunk driving offender. He was arrested after he refused the breathalyzer. The next day, as he was about to appear in court, a breath test was taken and he had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .24. That’s triple the legal limit of .08, and it’s baffling as to why he decided that was the condition he wanted to be in when he appeared in front of the judge.

It sounds like Minnesota police have their hands full, especially during the holidays. When the Department of Public Safety shared these reports they also revealed that the number of Minnesota drunk driving arrests were up this year over the last. That could be because the state doesn’t require ignition interlocks for all offenders.

An ignition interlock—a device that requires a convicted drunk driver to blow an alcohol-free breath sample before the engine will turn over, is only required in Minnesota for repeat offenders and first offenders with a BAC over .15.  Not having a law to stop first offenders from becoming repeat offenders is a real problem, especially in a state where drunk drivers clog the roadways.

Let’s hope this is the year Minnesota passes an all offender law. There’s a real need to curb drunk driving rates in this state, and when you require interlocks for all offenders, you can put a stop to many of these crazy drunk driving stories.

Friday Fallout: High School Students Witnesses To New Mexico DWI Trial

New Mexico DWI Before New Mexico ignition interlock laws changed to include first time offenders, the state had a serious problem with drunk drivers. Since that law passed in 2005, the state has steadily cracked down on anyone who drives while intoxicated. As a result of the New Mexico DWI changing for the better, public perception of drunk driving has changed too.

New Mexico has created unique programs to promote public education on the dangers of drunk driving, and part of that public education includes high school students. That’s why the West Mesa High School students were taken to a performance facilitated in part by the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court.

The students, numbering in the hundreds, were witnesses to what happens when someone is arrested for New Mexico DWI. They were invited to listen to the West Mesa Performing Arts Center to watch a replicated court room in action as two DWI cases were presided over by the judge.

The defendants were both two-time DWI offenders in New Mexico, and they were handed down sentences while the students watched. When that part of it was over, the defendants talked about how the crime has impacted their lives. One of the defendants detailed how he was just going to get pizza after a few drinks, and because of that poor choice he lost his car, his driver’s license, and had to pay thousands in fees, fines, and wages he lost because he missed work. He said if he could go back and make his decision all over again, he’d call Uber.

Why would a high school show teens what happens in a DWI courtroom? According to organizers, it’s part education and part showing them what the future could bring if they decide to drink and drive too. No one wants to be arrested for New Mexico DWI, and maybe when these teens find themselves in the same situation, they’ll remember this experience and make the smart choice.

There’s A Bright Side To The Florida Ignition Interlock Program

Florida Ignition InterlockTaking part in the Florida ignition interlock program is a requirement for a Florida DUI, but only if a few conditions are met. First offenders need to install one if they are arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .15, and second, third, and other repeat offenders must use the device for at least a year after conviction.

When you are required to use an interlock, you can expect, as part of your Florida ignition interlock program, to stop driving after drinking any amount of alcohol. What you wouldn’t expect is that the very same device can also stop someone from stealing your car. Or, if it doesn’t stop that person, it can slow them down and record evidence too.

Need an example? A 17-year-old from Hillsborough County, Florida was recently arrested after he stole a car outside of a McDonald’s restaurant recently. The owner of the car was standing outside of the restaurant and had left his car running nearby. The teen decided to jump into the car and drive away, and when he did the owner gave chase.

The owner was dragged by the vehicle before he let go, and the teen took off. It was found abandoned the next morning, and although you’d think the teen got away free and clear, think again. Because of the Florida ignition interlock requirement, this teen was caught in the act.

Ignition interlock devices are equipped with a camera that records the driver providing a breath sample. This teen had to blow into the device to start the car, and he was most likely required to blow into it again for a rolling retest. Maybe he didn’t realize his photo was being taken every time he blew into it, but whether he knew or not, photographic evidence was easily obtained thanks to the interlock.

An ignition interlock is a penalty, and most people just want to get through their program, drive sober, and move on with their lives. But if you look on the positive side, that interlock can teach you to drive sober and, if you lose your car due to theft, it can help identify the thief too.

Drunk Driving In Texas Can Start With Just One Drink

drunk driving in Texas The biggest question people have about drinking and driving is, “How much is too much?” The answer to that question is simple: there is no safe amount of alcohol you can drink before you drive, and the Texas Department of Transportation would like you to be aware of that. The risk of your crashing or being arrested because of drunk driving in Texas can begin at very low levels of impairment.

According to TDOT, every 20 minutes someone in Texas is injured or killed because of an alcohol-related drunk driving crash. Given the risk, why do people drink and drive? It might be because they don’t realize that one drink might be all it takes to impair your driving skills.

Alcohol affects everyone in a different way

Alcohol has the power to affect your vision, hand/eye coordination, and motor skills, and the effects begin as soon as you’ve had your first drink. What happens after that drink hits your bloodstream depends on a few factors including whether you’re male or female, what your body weight is, and your age.

No every drink is created the same way either. Tall cans of beer look like one can, but they can include as many as three servings of beer. Cocktails you purchase in a club can have two or three different types of liquor, and some wines have more alcohol-content than others.

Because of those differences, no one can tell you that it’s safe to drive after drinking one drink. While one person will feel sober after one or two glasses of beer in an hour, another will be well on their way to impairment after drinking the same amount. That person could easily be arrested for drunk driving in Texas, all because they drank the same amount as another person.

If you’d like to have a drink with dinner or you want to drive home after you’ve been out drinking, your best option is to find a sober driver. If you have to ask yourself, “How much is too much?” you shouldn’t be driving.

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